If you’re unfamiliar with the LGBTQA+ bar scene in Washington, D.C., you’re not living life the way it’s supposed to be lived.
Whether you’re straight, gay or transgender, you should give at least one of these clubs a chance.
Nellie’s Sports Bar
Nellie’s Sports Bar is easily one of the first places that comes to mind. Despite the name, most attendants who go there would rather dance than watch a sports game.
With two floors and multiple bars, there’s room to mingle and switch scenes depending on your mood.
If you want to have a few drinks with your friends and have actual conversations, stay on the first floor.
When you’re ready to dance (and you will be), make your way upstairs, and be sure not to step on any toes because it gets pretty packed during the weekends. If you’re wearing heels or boots and step on some poor soul’s feet, apologize profusely, buy them a drink and dance the night away. If you want a little pause in between songs, there’s a balcony for quick cigarette breaks or selfies with strangers.
You can go casual or fancy at Nellie’s, but you’re going to look good either way, and people are going to let you know, which is more than half the reason I keep going back.
They also have a calendar of events ranging from drag bingo to trivia night.
Nellie’s Sports Bar
900 U Street, NW
Mon-Thu: 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Friday: 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
If you don’t want to close down Nellie’s, and your inner dancer is craving something a bit more intense, cross the street over to Cobalt.
The first floor holds a restaurant, the second a lounge and then there’s the dance level on the third floor consistently filled with eclectic DJs and guests. This is the place to be if you want more of that trendy, club vibe.
Not only does Cobalt have an event nearly every night, but on Fridays there is a free rail vodka hour from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Free. Vodka. Hour.
I don’t believe it myself, but I know what I’m doing next Friday.
Other events include Karaoke night, best body contests and drag shows. And you’re guaranteed a good time, especially since they have a sign that says: “Beware. Hoes don’t act right. Enter at your own risk.”
What more could you ask for?
1639 R Street, NW
Mon-Thu, Sunday: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Fri-Sat: 4 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Can you clean up real nice?
Go to Number Nine in Logan Circle, which is a gay-friendly neighborhood in D.C.
With plush white seats, chic lighting and classy hardwood floors, the ambience becomes seductive with a slight New York vibe. This is a great spot for date night or a night out with friends without getting too crazy and waking up with regrets.
Order yourself a Jalapeno Margarita if you want to spice up the mood or grab a Blood Orange Old Fashioned if you want a twist on a classic cocktail.
1435 P Street
Monday 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Friday 5 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Saturday 3 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.
For singles who just want to have fun with that “go big or go home” mentality, check out Town Danceboutique, D.C.’s largest gay nightclub.
In addition to expected club Vines, the Town boasts big production numbers, including choreographed routines and cabaret performances. Toss in some LED lights and visual special effects and your weekend is set.
There is a cover charge, but it’ll be worth it once you’re in and encompassed by a sea of dancers who might just be your ride home.
And before the weather gets too chilly, the patio at Town is abnormally large and comfortable for D.C., and even has a FOOD TRUCK right there.
That offers food … to eat.
Town Dance Boutique
2009 8th Street NW
Tue-Thu 6 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Friday 6 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Although D.C. is a very gay-friendly city, the ladies are often left out from the spotlighted male-centric bars, until Phase 1 of Dupont opened up.
This LGBTQA+ women’s bar/nightclub opened up as a spinoff of the original lesbian bar Phase 1, which temporarily closed, in Capitol Hill. Phase 1 of Dupont is definitely big enough with five bars and multiple rooms for all walks of life, but ladies are particularly welcome, especially those who want a step back from the plethora of gay bars.
Ladies night, with the ladies, is possible. I definitely plan to cross this enigmatic place off my list this season.
Phase one of DuPont
1415 22nd Street, NW
Friday-Saturday 9 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of user Benson Kua via Flickr.
Maria Kim is a senior Bloc reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.